Festivals-Bulgaria

Christmas

In Bulgaria, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.

Christmas Eve (called ‘Budni Vecher’) is a very important day and the main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening of Christmas Eve. The meal should traditionally have an odd number of dishes in it (normally 7, 9 or 11) .
There’s a special round and decorated loaf of bread called ‘pita’ which has a coin baked in it. If you find the good you’re meant to have good luck for the next year! The bread is normally cut by the oldest person at the meal and they hand it around the table.

Following the Christmas Eve meal some people will go to a Midnight Mass service. You might also hear Koledari (carol singers) which are normally young men who go carol singing dressed in traditional clothing. The singing can only start after midnight. The singers often go round singing all night, so the sun never catches them! When they reach a house they sing ‘the house song’ praising and wishing the house well. Having the Koledari visit your home is meant to be good luck. The songs are often in two parts with half of the singers singing the song and then the other half repeating it back. After the singing, the head of the house will give the Koledari food to thank them for singing. The special foods include ‘Koledni gevreci’ (round buns) and ‘banitsa’ (a layered pastry filled with cheese).

Christmas Trees now popular in Bulgaria and towns are decorated with Christmas lights. Some people will still have a traditional Yule Log (normally from an oak, elm or pear tree) known as a ‘badnik’ or ‘budnik’ which is brought into the house on Christmas Eve.
Santa is known as ‘Dyado Koleda’ (Дядо Коледа) which means Grandfather Christmas.
In Bulgarian Merry Christmas is ‘Vesela Koleda’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Our students made beautiful Christmas cards.

Kukeri

Every year in January and February (depending on the region) in towns and villages around the country Bulgarians and foreign guests gather to enjoy this special kind of festival. The kukeri, traditionally men only, are the protagonists in this ancient mystery. They form a procession through the streets and perform ritual dances dressed in their handmade costumes. The scarier the outfit, the better, as the goal of the whole rite is to chase away the evil spirits of winter.

The costumes consist of big masks made of fur, leather and wood, sometimes taking animalistic forms, or otherwise materializing monsters, born of the creator’s imagination. They come in different colors as well, with every one of them having its own meaning:

  • red representing fertility, sun and fire;
  • black standing for earth;
  • and white – for water and light.

Each costume also has a leather belt worn around the waist with huge copper bells (chanove) attached to it.

Martenitsa

Since ancient times on the 1-st of March all Bulgarians give each other martenitsi – twisted red and white threads. 
This is a tradition with a long, long history with roots in Thracians times that is still alive. It is connected with first signs of coming spring and the awakening of nature. People tie martenitsi on their wrists or pin them on their clothes wishing good health, prosperity and luck. Martenitsi are put on the doors of the houses, on the trees in the garden and even on the animals at the farm. ‘

The students from the target group drew postcards with “martenitsi”.


March 3

On March 3 Bulgaria celebrates National Liberation Day. Our students created collages dedicated to the holiday.


Tsvetnica (Palm sunday)

On this day we celebrate Palm Sunday or as it is called Palm Sunday. This great Christian holiday of t. Pomegranate. Movable holidays, not on a specific date but always falls on the Sunday after St. Lazarus and one week before Easter. This is one of the freshest spring holidays. It is dedicated to the solemn reception of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem with olive and laurel branches.

On today’s feast believers carry twigs in their hands – willow, of periwinkle, rosemary, olive, laurel and spring flowers. Morning over the gates of each house decorating wreaths of willow twigs that protect against evil and infertility.
On Palm name day celebrate all people who have names of flowers, plants or trees.


Workshop with students from “Indira Gandhi” School Sofia. Arranging compositions for the Day of Flowers in Bulgaria before The Orthodox Easter.

Easter

Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians, and Easter here is usually during a different time than the rest of the world.  As the Bulgarian name implies “Velikden” (Great Day), Easter is one of the most significant holidays in the Bulgarian calendar and starting with Palm Sunday, the holy week leads up to the Great Day. In tune with worldwide Orthodox traditions, bright red colored eggs and Easter breads known as “kozunak” are the prominent symbols of Easter in Bulgaria.

At midnight on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, people gather at the church with red painted eggs and bread. The priest proclaims three times “Christos voskrese” (Christ has risen) and the congregation replies “Vo istina voskrese” (Indeed he has risen). After a special sequence of services, the clergy blesses the breads and eggs brought by the people.

The Bulgarian good luck crack is a unique Easter tradition in Bulgaria. Eggs are cracked after the midnight service and over the next few days. People take turns in tapping their eggs against the eggs of others, and the person who ends up with the last unbroken egg is believed to have a year of good luck.

Following traditions is the best way to learn something new, to be with friends and have real fun. Students from 79 “Indira Gandhi” School Sofia preparing for the Orthodox Easter.

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